Visit the magnificent fort
palaces of Orchhar in Madhya Pradesh. The glory of Orchha houses
three magnificent palaces, Raja Mahal, Jahangir Mahal,Rai Praveen
Mahal that are still in fairly good shape, built by the
aforementioned Bharti Chand.
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Raja Rudra Pratap founded Orchha in the early
16th century, but most of the early construction work in the town was carried
out by his successor, Raja Bharti Chand. He built the city walls, and the
citadel that, unfortunately, lies in ruins today.
Raja Mahal- Work on the Raja Mahal was started
by Raja Rudra Pratap, but he died in 1531, leaving the construction incomplete.
His son, Bharti Chand, completed the front and the main portion of the palace,
but could not complete the building during his lifetime. The final touches to
the Raja Mahal were added by one of the most prominent rulers of Orchha,
Madhukar Shah built several other monuments in the town as well.
The Magnificent Architecture- The Raja Mahal
is a fine example of Mughal architecture with typical stone jali (lattice) work
and multifaceted arches at the entrance. The palace is in the shape of a perfect
square that is further divided into two courtyards. The main courtyard is
flanked by the palace which has a four-storeyed building at one end of it. The
other three sides comprise of five-storeyed apartments. The Raja Mahalís facade
is simplicity personified with hardly any ornamental detailing, but the
interiors house some splendid paintings. The outer courtyard has some beautiful
arches arranged in floral patterns and carved out in lime mortar.
Inside Attractions of The Palace-Inside the
Mahal, the two places worth a look are the Durbar-e-Khas and the Diwan-i-Am. The
Durbar-e-Khas, or the Durbar Hall, is situated on the first floor of the palace
and is surrounded by high walls. It is well fortified, and right above it is a
number of musket holes through which the enemy was shot at. The Diwan-i-Am is an
assembly hall where the king often held meetings with his council of ministers.
The hall has three platforms, and from the highest one, the king held forth on
affairs of the state. The Diwan-i-Am has massive columns and the ceiling has
been decorated with paintings belonging to the Mughal and the Bundela
(combination of Indo Persian) schools of art. The exterior of the palace is
decorated with elephant and lotus-shaped brackets. The entire architecture of
the Raja Mahal is exquisite and speaks loftily of the stone carvers who sculpted
Jahangir Mahal- The intricately carved
Jahangir Mahal has an aura of grandeur and opulence. Built on the lines of
Emperor Akbarís Hamam Saras in Agra, it is nevertheless representative of the
Bundela school of architecture. The palace is five-storeyed and has eight
pavilions. The third floor has a court where the rulers of Orchha met with their
subjects. The court is raised over superimposed arcades with a wide gallery
overlooking it. A long line of elephant brackets flanks the entrance to the
monument, and a reddish-brown cornice runs along the periphery of the court. The
faÁade of the Jahangir Mahal is decorated with a plethora of geometric patterns,
and paintings of peacocks and flowers. As the very name of the monument
suggests, it was built in honour of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, by the Orchha
ruler, Vir Singh. The friendship between the two went back a long way, much
before either of them became monarchs. Before he became Maharaja, Vir Singh
owned the fief of Badoni, situated midway between Orchha and Gwalior. Meanwhile,
in the Mughal Court, the relationship between Emperor Akbar and his eldest son,
Salim (later to be known as Jahangir), was always a tempestuous one. Prince
Salim was a bit too susceptible to affairs of the heart, and his dalliance with
Anarkali had riled the emperor no end. Abul Fazl, one of the Navratnas, or Nine
Jewels, in Akbarís court thrived on the rift and persuaded Akbar to forfeit
Salimís heirship to the Mughal throne.
Inevitably, Salim revolted against this, and
Akbar deputed none other than the Machiavellian Abul Fazl to quell the
rebellion. Fazl began a march to Agra to meet Salimís army in battle, but first
he had to travel through Badoni, which was en route. At this crucial juncture,
Vir Singh decided to help his friend Salim in his hour of trial by attacking
Fazlís army and vanquishing it. Not content with that, he chopped off Fazlís
head and presented it to Salim. This was in 1602, and three years later when
Akbar died and Jahangir replaced him as the emperor, it was time for him to
repay the favour to his old friend. Accordingly, he bestowed the whole of
Bundelkhand to Vir Singh and even attended his coronation in 1606. It was on
this occasion that Vir had the Jahangir Mahal built to receive Emperor Jahangir
when he visited Orchha. The palace today stands as a memorial to the great
friendship between the two erstwhile rulers.
Emperor Akbar Moved By Charms of Poetess -So,
Rai Praveen went to Akbarís court, where, accompanied by her tutor, Keshava
Dasa, she regaled the court with her singing and dancing skills. A bewitched
Akbar asked her to jilt the contemptible Indrajit (who had abandoned her to her
fate in any case) and take up residence with him in his harem. He enticed her
with the fabulous riches of the Mughal court, which, he told her, were more
suitable for a lady of her accomplishments. However, Rai Parveen refused. Akbar,
finding all his inducements falling on deaf ears and touched by her loyalty,
decided to restore her to Orchha. Rai Praveen returned to Orchha with both her
dignity and that of her kingdom intact. The palace is a fitting memorial to this
lady. The fort also houses a Tope Khana (canon foundry) which kept a vigil round
the clock, guarding against any external threat from the enemies of Orchha.
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